May 2022Read Now
Hope you are all well out there. Here is another selection of items for your perusal. Treat it like a smorgasbord and just take what interests you.
1) MDC Emissions Inventory Report released -
Marlborough District Council has released its first reports detailing the carbon footprint from its operations, finding just over 75 per cent of measurable emissions come from its landfill. The reports, for the years ending 2019 and 2020, were prepared by independent consultants CarbonEES to serve as a baseline that the Council can benchmark against for future years.
An initial benchmark was the first task in the Climate Change Action Plan, which was approved in March 2020, just as Covid-19 began to surface. After the 2020 report had been prepared, Council undertook a second report for 2019 in order to understand its pre-Covid emissions.
The Report states -
The objectives of this carbon foot-printing project are to:
Scope 2 are indirect emissions associated with the generation of electricity purchased by MDC.
Scope 3 are other indirect emissions that are a consequence of MDC's activities but from sources they do not own or directly control. (construction/infrastructure projects, bus services, etc)
The first point to note is that the report only includes emissions from council owned AND operated sources.
The organisational boundary follows an operational control approach. As such, the emissions inventory includes all sources associated with activities Marlborough District Council had operational control (authority to introduce and implement operating policies) over... (which excludes Port Marlborough, Marlborough Airport, Marlborough Regional Forestry, Marlborough Sustainable Housing Trust and Marlborough Stadium Trust.)
The Report writers also recommended to Council "that council work with the airport, the port, and any other entities which the council owns but does not operate to calculate these emissions. If these emissions were known to council they could be included as a Scope 3 emissions source under category 15, Investments."
In conclusion they recommend:
The Council also released a useful media statement for those who haven’t seen it.
2) Marlborough Landfill Gas Utilisation –
The Contract for the beneficial use of landfill gas has been awarded to LMS Energy Limited. The first phase of the Contract is for LMS to carry out an investigation of the existing landfill gas collection and destruction system. LMS will then provide staff with a report on the efficiency of the current system and where any improvements in landfill gas capture could be made. Improvements could include extending the gas capture system by constructing additional gas boreholes. Any improvements will be tied to existing budgets.
Thereafter, the gas field will then be monitored over a minimum 6-month period to ensure the quality and quantity of the gas is consistent. Stage 2 of the assessment would then see the design of a suitable biogas plant that would utilise the available landfill gas as a fuel to drive a turbine for electricity production.
FYI - LMS Energy is Australia’s largest and most experienced landfill biogas company. The recovery of landfill biogas reduces carbon emissions and provides a reliable source of renewable energy. Each year, LMS’ projects reduce over 4 million tonnes of carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere, making LMS Australia’s largest emissions reducer. LMS has successfully delivered more landfill biogas projects than any other Australian company and are highly recognised as innovators in this industry.
3) Repurposing of Unwanted Goods Project -
Here is an opportunity to redirect unwanted goods from going to landfill, by finding new homes for them. This helps to maximise the benefit to our community from the production of those goods. Reuse of goods is one of the most efficient things we can all do to reduce our carbon footprint.
The Collection and Repurposing of Unwanted Goods Project is funded through existing budgets and a grant from the waste minimisation fund. The project began in March 2021 and is scheduled for completion by 30 June 2022. The project reporting is split across two milestones. Milestone 1 has now been completed and the relevant reporting information submitted to the waste minimisation funds team at the Ministry for the Environment.
The objectives of milestone 1 were:
1. Establish a system for the collection and redistribution of unwanted reusable items by project completion.
2. Establish a redistribution system for unwanted goods based on the following criteria a) No transport and b) Self-identified immediate need.
3. Report on incidences of general illegal dumping across the project period compared to the 12-month period prior to the project.
More info on the project and associated booking system can be found here:
4) What would a National government do on climate change?
For anyone who missed seeing Tom Powell's article recently it is worth having a look at it and reading the detailed response from Scott Simpson, the National Party Climate Change spokesperson, that was published in the article. In writing the article we appreciated the input and feedback we received from CKM member Toby Stevenson and Tim Jones from Coal Action Network.
Max Rashbrooke also wrote a good article focusing on the weaknesses of the NZ ETS, and showing support of the concerns expressed in Tom's opinion piece.
5) Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) release -
Aotearoa New Zealand's first emissions reduction plan was recently released, titled "Te hau mārohi ki anamata - Towards a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy." The plan states that it "contains strategies, policies and actions for achieving our first emissions budget and contributing to global efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels." The Ministry of Environment website has a summary of the plan and you can also download the full document there if you wish.
If like me you struggle to get your head around the question of whether this Plan is going to really bring about the deep seated changes we require to help keep our planet liveable then here are a few options for gauging responses from people better informed than me.
This Scoop article canvasses opinions from 13 different scientists focusing on areas such as Transport, Agriculture, Energy, Waste and Building & Construction and provides an opportunity to build some understanding of the Plan. There are also some very useful contributions taking an Overview of the Plan.
There are positive statements recognising the progress that has been made but from my reading I get the feeling that politics (an election next year) have again got in the way of making the big and critical changes required. Here are a couple of quotes - "Well, the emission reduction plan is yet another step forward in meeting targets, but I don’t detect any urgency." and "While its objectives focus on the socio-cultural well-being of New Zealanders, the actions presented in this plan are mostly technocratic. Technology will not save us from climate change, as climate change is a political problem more than a technical one. This report considers no limits to growth and no attempts for de-growth, only an attempt to have a “de-carbonized growth” through technology and policy." I've also read other comments elsewhere such as "the ERP was even less ambitious and showed less urgency than the discussion document."
One significant development in the ERP is the changed focus to 50% renewable energy across the energy sector, away from the government's previously stated 100% renewable electricity target, though the question this raises is - How serious are the supporting actions to deliver the new target? The ERP refers to the issues of energy security and cost concerns and this has prompted caution over phasing out natural gas. The plan states - “Phasing out fossil gas presents short-term and long-term challenges, including balancing capital investment with declining fossil gas use, fossil gas affordability and the risk of stranded network assets. The government is working to address these challenges and set out a pathway for the fossil gas sector.”
This quote from an article on the pay walled Business Desk website states - "This will be done through a gas transition plan that will feed into a wider energy strategy that will focus on increasing renewables across the entire sector and not just electricity generation. This will include work led by the GIC (The Gas Industry Company (GIC) regulates the sector), to consider whether any mechanisms are needed to ensure fossil gas is available to industrial users in times of unexpectedly tight supply”. Some believe the signalling around the loosening of the 100% renewable electricity target and the gas transition plan will be interpreted by the energy sector as a win and a reason to believe that gas will continue to have a role. The Climate Change Commission advised the government to set a date from when no new gas connections should be allowed but their concerns about energy security and affordability are among the reasons the government has gone against the advice on the phasing out of gas.
This Stuff article looks at the Government's aim to boost the renewable energy target across the whole energy sector from the current 28% share to 50% by 2035 and addresses the question of gas transition. It states - "The head of the independent Climate Change Commission is urging caution by anyone planning to connect a home to the natural (fossil-fueled) gas network, despite the Government balking at setting an end date for new gas hook-ups."
So the ERP is explicit about a gas transition plan but there appears to be silence on coal for electricity generation. Coal is mentioned frequently in respect of coal boilers but there is nothing in the Plan that restrains the use of coal for generation.
Some parts of the (ERP) stand out as good moves for the transport sector. In particular, it sets this target: “Reduce total kilometres travelled [VKT] by the light fleet by 20 per cent by 2035 through improved urban form and providing better travel options, particularly in our largest cities.” This target plus the higher standard of justification required for new roading could lead to substantial emissions reduction in urban transport.
The Greater Auckland website has a guest post by sustainable transport and accessibility advocate Tim Adriaansen that I found to be a useful summary on the ERP.
6) The NZ SeaRise Project -
Te Tai Pari O Aotearoa programme has released location specific sea level rise projections out to the year 2300 for every 2 km of the coast of Aotearoa New Zealand. These projections can be accessed through a new online tool developed by Takiwā, a data management and analytics platform.
For the first time, New Zealanders will be able to see how much and how fast sea level will rise along ‘their own’ stretch of coast and in their neighbourhood. The tool allows users to click on a particular location on the coast and see how much sea level is expected to rise, and by when, under different climate change scenarios.
Climate change and warming temperatures are causing sea level to rise, on average, by 3.5 mm per year. This sea level rise is caused by thermal expansion of the ocean, by melting glaciers, and by melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.
However, local sea level rise around the coast of Aotearoa is also affected by up and down movements of our land. We are very aware when these vertical land movements occur in large jumps during earthquakes, but less obvious to us are the smaller shifts that occur continuously in between large seismic events. These small but continuous changes add up, and in areas that are going down (subsiding) the annual rate of sea level rise can double. We have connected this vertical land movement data with climate driven sea level rise to provide locally-relevant sea level projections.
7) Draft national adaptation plan -
We’re consulting on a draft national plan to help Aotearoa New Zealand adapt to and minimise the harmful impacts of climate change. New Zealand’s first national adaptation plan will build the foundation for adaptation action so that all sectors and communities are able to live and thrive in a changing climate. The consultation also outlines proposals for flood insurance and managed retreat policies.
Consultation will close at 11:59pm on 3 June 2022.
To learn more check out the full consultation document.
8) New Zealand’s Process Heat Fuel Future. Part 1: South Island -
In 2020 DETA Consulting published the whitepaper, Carbon Roadmap to 2050. In the foreword of this new report, NZ's Process Heat Fuel Future, they say they want to bring -
"...the conversation around specifically to industrial process heat. It is time to look forward and think of the big picture - how feasible is it to use alternatives such as wood (biomass) and electricity, and what are some of the long-term implications in making the switch?" The report helps industries to understand what biomass levels could be available when they transition away from coal.
They go on to say in the Executive Summary -
"Coal remains a low-cost option for process heat users. However, it is also a very significant contributor to climate change. As Aotearoa New Zealand moves towards a low carbon future, organisations that rely heavily on coal and other fossil fuels for process heat need to adapt or be left behind – a rising Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will make coal substantially more expensive than it is today, and the New Zealand Government has implemented a ban on all new low to medium temperature coal boilers as of March 2022, with plans to phase out existing coal boilers by 2037. Across the South Island, there is 1.46 GW of non- renewable heat capacity, or 24.3 Petajoule (PJ) of annual heat production from fossil fuels, primarily from coal. In other words, the equivalent of 65% of electricity consumed annually by the South Island, is being produced from non-renewable fossil fuels. Industries know they need to move away from fossil fuels and are primarily considering biomass and electric alternatives."
Here are a couple of examples from the report that highlights some of the challenges that will need to be dealt with as fossil fuel fired boilers (primarily coal) for industrial process heat are phased out by 2037 as required by government regulation -
"Canterbury’s wood fibre availability is severely diminished due to massive forest clearing efforts in the late 1990s to early 2000s. By 2031 the Canterbury region will need 7.6 PJ or 55% of its heat energy from electric boilers or other non- biomass technologies. That’s equivalent to 35% of Canterbury’s current yearly electricity consumption." AND "‘We found that fossil fuel boilers produce about 24.3 PJ of heat. That’s equivalent to 65% of the electricity consumption of the entire South Island’. However, fossil fuel boilers typically operate around 75-85% efficiency, so to produce 24.3 PJ of heat requires approximately 31.5 PJ of fuel energy."
9) Save BOARD - Low Carbon Building Materials made from Upcycled packaging -
Here's a new development for NZ. I hope they succeed and grow.
Made in New Zealand; healthy, affordable, high performance, low carbon building materials that make a circular economy an everyday reality. We take everyday packaging waste and upcycle it into high performing building materials - durable, inherently moisture and mould resistant. Our board products are also 100% recyclable as all recovered offcuts and end of life products can be remanufactured into new boards providing a circular solution.
10) Making climate a boardroom priority.
Chapter Zero New Zealand is part of a global network of board directors committed to taking action on climate change. It is hosted in Aotearoa by the Institute of Directors.
Here is a brief summary from their website -
Climate change is shaping a new reality, creating risks and opportunities for business in a diverse number of ways. Investors, regulators and other stakeholders are now challenging companies to take responsibility by adopting an integrated, strategic approach to addressing the climate emergency.
The urgent need to address the climate emergency requires governments and business to accelerate the transition to a new economic model, which seeks to limit global average temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, consistent with the 2018 recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
To fulfil their fiduciary duties in the long-term service of their organisations, directors need to be fully aware of the implications of climate change, have the skills, tools, processes and information to act, and commit to steward their companies through the challenges climate change entails to embed it within their companies’ strategic planning.
11) Many of New Zealand’s glaciers could disappear in a decade, scientists warn.
New Zealand’s glaciers are becoming “smaller and more skeletal” due to the effects of climate change and scientists predict many could disappear within a decade. An annual end-of-summer survey that records the snowline of more than 50 South Island glaciers has revealed continued loss of snow and ice. Every year, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa), the Victoria University of Wellington and the conservation department gather thousands of aerial photographs of the glaciers to measure the altitude of the snowline and see how much of the previous winter’s snow has remained covering each glacier. That snowline, also known as the equilibrium line altitude (ELA), allows scientists to evaluate the glacier’s health. If the glacier size has decreased, then the line will be higher, because less winter snow remains. “We were expecting the snowlines to be high because of the warm weather we’ve had and sadly, our instincts were confirmed,” said Dr Andrew Lorrey, a principal scientist at Niwa.
New Zealand’s glaciers had lost mass most years over the past decade, said Dr Lauren Vargo from Victoria University.
“But what was more striking to me is how much smaller and more skeletal so many of the glaciers are becoming.”
Check out the full article.
12) Iceland: cross-party demand for ecocide law goes to parliament -
It is encouraging to see progress being made in another country towards getting Ecocide law legislated. It would be great if NZ got on board with this initiative.
“Auður Önnu Magnúsdóttir, general manager of the Icelandic Environment Association, a Member of Parliament for the Pirate Party, announced that: “It's time for us to hold people accountable if nature is harmed in such a way that it threatens world peace, security and well-being. That is why I was submitting a parliamentary resolution proposing that ecocide be recognized as an international crime. It is especially good to see broad support for the issue - we are 12 MPs from four parties who are responsible for it - and hopefully Iceland can take a leading position in this fight for the rights of Mother Earth, which is in full swing all over the world."
Check out the full text of the press release.
13) Revealed: the ‘carbon bombs’ set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown -
This Guardian article highlights details of major oil and gas projects currently planned by the major fossil fuel companies.
The world’s biggest fossil fuel firms are quietly planning scores of “carbon bomb” oil and gas projects that would drive the climate past internationally agreed temperature limits with catastrophic global impacts, a Guardian investigation shows. The exclusive data shows these firms are in effect placing multibillion-dollar bets against humanity halting global heating. Their huge investments in new fossil fuel production could pay off only if countries fail to rapidly slash carbon emissions, which scientists say is vital.
The lure of colossal payouts in the years to come appears to be irresistible to the oil companies, despite the world’s climate scientists stating in February that further delay in cutting fossil fuel use would mean missing our last chance “to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”. As the UN secretary general, António Guterres, warned world leaders in April: “Our addiction to fossil fuels is killing us.”
Details of the projects being planned are not easily accessible but an investigation published in the Guardian shows:
The fossil fuel industry’s short-term expansion plans involve the start of oil and gas projects that will produce greenhouse gases equivalent to a decade of CO2 emissions from China, the world’s biggest polluter. These plans include 195 carbon bombs, gigantic oil and gas projects that would each result in at least a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions over their lifetimes, in total equivalent to about 18 years of current global CO2 emissions. About 60% of these have already started pumping.
The dozen biggest oil companies are on track to spend $103m a day for the rest of the decade exploiting new fields of oil and gas that cannot be burned if global heating is to be limited to well under 2C. The Middle East and Russia often attract the most attention in relation to future oil and gas production but the US, Canada and Australia are among the countries with the biggest expansion plans and the highest number of carbon bombs. The US, Canada and Australia also give some of the world’s biggest subsidies for fossil fuels per capita.
In a similar vein this article highlights a study that proposes the shut down of fossil fuel production sites early to avoid climate chaos. It says -
"Nearly half of existing fossil fuel production sites need to be shut down early if global heating is to be limited to 1.5C, the internationally agreed goal for avoiding climate catastrophe, according to a new scientific study. The assessment goes beyond the call by the International Energy Agency in 2021 to stop all new fossil fuel development to avoid the worst impacts of global heating, a statement seen as radical at the time. The new research reaches its starker conclusion by not assuming that new technologies will be able to suck huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere to compensate for the burning of coal, oil and gas. Experts said relying on such technologies was a risky gamble."
14) A couple of developments in the field of Hydrogen -
A new method for rapid, efficient hydrogen generation from water.
Aluminum is a highly reactive metal that can strip oxygen from water molecules to generate hydrogen gas. Now, researchers at UC Santa Cruz have developed a new cost-effective and effective way to use aluminum’s reactivity to generate clean hydrogen fuel.
In a new study, a team of researchers shows that an easily produced composite of gallium and aluminum creates aluminum nanoparticles that react rapidly with water at room temperature to yield large amounts of hydrogen. According to researchers, the gallium was easily recovered for reuse after the reaction, which yields 90% of the hydrogen that could theoretically be produced from the reaction of all the aluminum in the composite. While gallium is not abundant and is relatively expensive, it can be recovered and reused multiple times without losing effectiveness. However, it remains to be seen if this process can be scaled up to be practical for commercial hydrogen production.
Natural hydrogen exploration ‘boom’ snaps up one third of South Australia.
15) Compressed Air Technology.
Here is another interesting way of utilising renewable electricity for transport and as a way to store energy. A NZ company called Air Future is promoting this technology here.
COMPRESSED AIR TECHNOLOGY is one of the best possible solutions because its carbon footprint is optimal, its reservoir is chemically inert and its very reasonable cost makes it possible to optimise energy production resulting from sustainable development. With the vision to make ecology accessable to all, Motor Development International (MDI) has developed a disruptive clean high technology of engines running on compressed air, which caters for a wide variety of applications operable to Sustain Mobility and Energy Storage Solutions.
The MDI high-tech engines using only compressed air are totally clean. Global energy challenges dictate the choice of new production paradigms and energy storage means. To accumulate and store energy from a primary source and then use it with a very high conversion efficiency is the challenge that the MDI concept of compressed air engines meets and achieves.
The MDI reversible high-tech engines compress ambient air in approved tanks of various capacities at a pressure of 248 bars. The expansion of this stored energy in the form of movement allows you to replace all heat engines and cover any type of application: to move vehicles or to store and re-use electric energy.
16) Solar energy can now be stored for up to 18 years, say scientists -
Solar-powered electronics are one step closer to becoming an everyday part of our lives thanks to a “radical” new scientific breakthrough.
In 2017, scientists at a Swedish university created an energy system that makes it possible to capture and store solar energy for up to 18 years, releasing it as heat when needed. Now the researchers have succeeded in getting the system to produce electricity by connecting it to a thermoelectric generator. Though still in its early stages, the concept developed at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenberg could pave the way for self-charging electronics that use stored solar energy on demand.
“This is a radically new way of generating electricity from solar energy. It means that we can use solar energy to produce electricity regardless of weather, time of day, season, or geographical location,” explains research leader Kasper Moth-Poulsen, Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers.
Check out the full article.
17) Corn-Based Ethanol May Be Worse For the Climate Than Gasoline, a New Study Finds.
Ethanol made from corn grown across millions of acres of American farmland has become the country’s premier renewable fuel, touted as a low-carbon alternative to traditional gasoline and a key component of the country’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But a new study, published this week, finds that corn-based ethanol may actually be worse for the climate than fossil-based gasoline, and has other environmental downsides.
“We thought and hoped it would be a climate solution and reduce and replace our reliance on gasoline,” said Tyler Lark, a researcher with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and lead author of the study. “It turns out to be no better for the climate than the gasoline it aims to replace and comes with all kinds of other impacts.”
Check out the full article for more info.
18) Modernity is incompatible with planetary limits: Developing a PLAN for the future.
This scientific research paper asks some serious questions and is refreshing in that it does not dodge the difficult issues.
This age of modernity is characterized by consistent growth in energy use, economic activity, and resource consumption, and a generally increasing standard of living—albeit inequitably distributed. All currently living humans, and most academic disciplines, have developed in this age, which appears normal and indefinite to us. But modernity has been enabled by the rapid and accelerating expenditure of our one-time inheritance of fossil fuels, and by drawing down the resources and ecosystems of our finite Earth—none of which can be sustained as we transition from a resource-rich frontier to a human-dominated planet. Climate change is often singled out as modernity’s existential crisis, but it is only one of a series of interlocking challenges constituting an unprecedented predicament that must be understood and mitigated in order to live within planetary limits. While energetic and technological challenges attract significant attention, arguably the greatest challenges are conceptual or even cultural. In particular, as we review in this Perspective, today’s political economy has been designed to value short-term financial wealth over the real treasure of Earth’s functioning ecosystems, to discount the future at the expense of the present, and to demand infinite exponential growth…which is simply impossible on a finite planet. Given all this, humanity should view its present overshoot-prone trajectory with tremendous suspicion, humility, and concern. We call for the establishment of a transdisciplinary network of scholars from across the entire academic landscape to develop a global understanding of planetary limits and how humanity can adapt to the associated realities. We present a set of foundational principles to serve as a starting point to anchor this network and drive a new area of focused inquiry to develop a shared vision of viable future paths.
What would a lower-fossil-energy future look like? Can an energy regime transformation take place as broadly and quickly as needed to offset declining net energy? Is it as unlikely as preliminary studies suggest that renewable energy technology/innovation might save the modern human project from the challenges of a resource-constrained future? Will the future look more like the distant past than the present? When does the downward portion of the fossil fuel age begin? What can be done to minimize the chances of colossal failure or sub-systemic breakdown, which in the worst case could threaten preservation of science and human knowledge? Certainly, failure to acknowledge dire possibilities invites huge risk. Much is at stake, and humanity must be very cautious about the temptation for denial, dismissal, or idolatrous hope for some technological breakthrough—especially in light of credible causes for concern.
19) The future of food and energy with Mike Joy.
The quote below on the opening screen of the webinar, gives a feel for the focus of the talk. The talk was organised by Nelson Tasman Climate Forum. Mike provided some very useful topical information in his talk.
"Rather than trying to comfort politicians in their utopias, scientists should instead help them to get out of the denial of reality."
Gerhard Bonhomme, Professor Emeritus, University Lorraine. Chairman Energy/Environment Commission of the French Physical Society.
20) In-depth Q&A: The IPCC’s sixth assessment on how climate change impacts the world.
The Carbon Brief website have posted a very good overview of the IPCC’s AR6 Sixth Assessment report that was released in August last year. Most readers of this newsletter will be aware of the AR6 report and also possibly aware of how daunting it is at more than 3000 pages long. For anybody wanting to understand a bit more than just the headlines that we get in the media this in-depth Q&A is a very good resource.
21) NFT scams, toxic ‘mines’ and lost life savings: the cryptocurrency dream is fading fast -
Cryptocurrencies, according to their most ardent supporters, are supposed to supplant nations’ existing currencies and end central banks’ control over the money supply. Instead, individuals will be able to trade with each other in a decentralised, digital financial ecosystem. This is a good thing, they promise, because unlike states and their central banks, technology is incorruptible. Crypto-evangelists imagine technology as a replacement for social and political institutions.But technology never replaces social and political behaviour; it merely alters the rules and norms we follow. To see this in action, one need only look at the plummeting value of Terra Luna, a crypto token that crashed by 98% in a day, causing some investors to lose their life savings; the plunging value of Bitcoin and Ethereum; or the countless scam victims whose non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have been stolen.
Check out the full article.
22) PV Magazine -
This website has a wide range of interesting items on developments in photovoltaics, battery storage, hydrogen technology, etc
23) Algae-Powered Computing -Scientists used a widespread species of blue-green algae to power a microprocessor continuously for a year — and counting — using nothing but ambient light and water. Their system has the potential as a reliable and renewable way to power small electronic devices.
The system, comparable in size to an AA battery, contains a type of non-toxic algae called Synechocystis that harvests energy naturally from the sun through photosynthesis. The tiny electrical current this generates then interacts with an aluminum electrode and is used to power a microprocessor. “Our photosynthetic device doesn’t run down the way a battery does because it’s continually using light as the energy source.” The system is made of ordinary, inexpensive, and mostly recyclable materials. This means it could easily be replicated hundreds of thousands of times to power large numbers of small devices as part of the Internet of Things. The researchers say it is likely to be most useful in off-grid situations or remote locations, where small amounts of electrical power can be very beneficial.
The researchers say that powering trillions of Internet of Things devices using lithium-ion batteries would be impractical: it would need three times more lithium than is produced across the world annually. And traditional photovoltaic devices are made using hazardous materials that have adverse environmental effects.
Check out the full article.
24) The secret world beneath our feet is mind-blowing – and the key to our planet’s future -
I would like to finish this time with two articles by George Monbiot focusing on food and soil. As you are no doubt aware by now I'm very interested in keeping a focus on the big picture issues impacting the future our amazing planet and it's ability to support life. These articles highlight another critical area we need to learn more about. I highly recommend them.
Don’t dismiss soil: its unknowable wonders could ensure the survival of our species.
Beneath our feet is an ecosystem so astonishing that it tests the limits of our imagination. It’s as diverse as a rainforest or a coral reef. We depend on it for 99% of our food, yet we scarcely know it. Soil.
But even more arresting than soil’s diversity and abundance is the question of what it actually is. Most people see it as a dull mass of ground-up rock and dead plants. But it turns out to be a biological structure, built by living creatures to secure their survival, like a wasps’ nest or a beaver dam. Microbes make cements out of carbon, with which they stick mineral particles together, creating pores and passages through which water, oxygen and nutrients pass. The tiny clumps they build become the blocks the animals in the soil use to construct bigger labyrinths.
While there are international treaties on telecommunication, civil aviation, investment guarantees, intellectual property, psychotropic substances and doping in sport, there is no global treaty on soil. The notion that this complex and scarcely understood system can withstand all we throw at it and continue to support us could be the most dangerous of all our beliefs.
While no solution is a panacea, I believe that some of the components of a new global food system – one that is more resilient, more distributed, more diverse and more sustainable – are falling into place. If it happens, it will be built on our new knowledge of the most neglected of major ecosystems: the soil. It could resolve the greatest of all dilemmas: how to feed ourselves without destroying the living systems on which we depend. The future is underground.
Check out the full article.
The banks collapsed in 2008 – and our food system is about to do the same -
"For the past few years, scientists have been frantically sounding an alarm that governments refuse to hear: the global food system is beginning to look like the global financial system in the run-up to 2008. A paper in Nature Sustainability reports that in the food system, “shock frequency has increased through time on land and sea at a global scale”. In researching my book Regenesis, I came to realise that it’s this escalating series of contagious shocks, exacerbated by financial speculation, that has been driving global hunger.
Now the global food system must survive not only its internal frailties, but also environmental and political disruptions that might interact with each other. To give a current example, in mid-April, the Indian government suggested that it could make up the shortfall in global food exports caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Just a month later, it banned exports of wheat, after crops shrivelled in a devastating heatwave. We urgently need to diversify global food production, both geographically and in terms of crops and farming techniques. We need to break the grip of massive corporations and financial speculators. We need to create backup systems, producing food by entirely different means. We need to introduce spare capacity into a system threatened by its own efficiencies.
If so many can go hungry at a time of unprecedented bounty, the consequences of the major crop failure that environmental breakdown could cause defy imagination. The system has to change."
Check out the full article.
Nga mihi, Budyong.
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These newsletters are put together by Budyong Hill in an attempt to help keep Marlborough people informed of issues both global and local. The aim is help raise awareness of the myriad challenges facing the essential life support systems that our amazing planet provides for us every day.